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The Minimum Age Requirement

January 20, 2016

On the short list of Founding Fathers we find the first four Presidents, the first Secretary of the Treasury, the first Postmaster General, and John Jay. Jay was appointed by President Washington as the first Chief Justice, but before Washington’s Administration, and before the U.S. Constitution was ratified, Jay wrote some of the Federalist Papers. In Federalist Paper 64 he wrote: “By excluding men under thirty-five from the first office [the Presidency], and those under thirty from the second [the Senate], it confines the electors to men of whom the people have had time to form a judgment, and with respect to whom they will not be liable to be deceived by those brilliant appearances of genius and patriotism, which, like transient meteors, sometimes mislead as well as dazzle.”

In other words, if the electorate cannot choose a President who is younger than 35 or a U.S. Senator who is younger than 30, the individuals who are chosen for these offices will have been in the public eye long enough to give the people confidence in their judgment and integrity. At least, that’s what the Founding Fathers hoped would happen.

John Kennedy was the youngest person elected President. On January 20, 1961 he was 43 years, seven months, and 23 days inclusive. Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest person ever to become President. When he succeeded to the office upon the death of President McKinley, he was 42 years, 10 months, and 19 days inclusive.

As of this writing there are more than a dozen viable candidates between the two major parties.  Their ages on January 20, 2017 will range from 45 to 75. All have been in the public eye for a number of years, some for decades.

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